$14.99 Windows 8 Pro Upgrade Offer Registration Now Open!; 30-day "Grace Period" Activation Ends; Resources for Testing Windows 8 Apps Using Visual Studio 2012

Windows Upgrade Offer announced in May, opened for registration today -- Now, if you purchase (or have purchased) an eligible Windows 7 PC anytime between June 2, 2012 and January 31, 2013 you will be able to purchase an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for only $14.99 (U.S.) redeemable on October 26th, when it is […]

Windows Upgrade Offer announced in May, opened for registration today -- Now, if you purchase (or have purchased) an eligible Windows 7 PC anytime between June 2, 2012 and January 31, 2013 you will be able to purchase an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for only $14.99 (U.S.) redeemable on October 26th, when it is generally available.

After buying your PC, "just go to the Windows Upgrade Offer website to register and enter the details as required --including date of purchase, retailer, and PC brand, model your 25-digit Windows 7 product key etc. as part of the registration," Microsoft explained.

Thereafter, "you'll recive promo codes via email on Oct 26, to redeem your discount through the purchase screen on Windows.com using Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant, where it'll show the $39.99 upgrade price. However, once you enter the promo code, the price will change to $14.99," Microsoft stated.

Once you make your purchase, your download and upgrade installation begins!

windows 8 upgrade assistant: windows upgrade offer opens

Both the Windows Upgrade Offer and $39.99 upgrade promotion is available in 140 countries worldwide, with 37 supported languages, and 23 supported currencies.

Also, note after the $69.99 promotional offer ends, Windows 8 Pro will cost you $199.

You will have until February 28, 2013 to register for the offer to get Windows 8 Pro for $14.99.

Microsoft also begining today allowed members of its Microsoft Action Pack Providers (MAPS) program to download the Windows 8 Pro RTM build.

The announcement was made on the Microsoft US Partner Twitter page.

Now, some bad news, those looking to download and install Windows 8 (when its generally available) and run it for 30 days without activating, Microsoft has now eliminated the "3-day grace period and now requires a unique product key for Windows 8."

Microsoft has ditched the 30-day grace period, a trademark of Windows 7, in the retail copies of Windows 8, mandating that users provide a product key during setup.

Now, "customers must enter a unique 25-character product key during Windows 8 setup. If a key is not entered, Windows 8 will not install. Once Windows 8 is installed, the operating system will call home and attempt to automatically activate the install. "If the licensed computer is connected to the Internet, the software will automatically connect to Microsoft for activation," states the end-user licensing agreement, or EULA, for Windows 8 Pro," reports ComputerWorld.

If the key entered is not legitimate, the desktop background fades to a permanent black, on-screen messages remind the user that the operating system is illegitimate, and the PC shuts down every hour.

Microsoft now requires a product key during setup because both Windows 8 and Windows Pro -- the two retail SKUs, or "stock-keeping units" -- are included in the same .iso, or disk image, file now available for download from several Microsoft sources. The version installed depends on the key provided.

Windows 8 Enterprise, aimed at companies with volume license agreements, ships with a KMS (Key Management Service) client key that's activated by an on-premises machine.

And, also Microsoft's free 90-day evaluation of Windows 8 Enterprise does not require a product key as the one is already baked into the trial -- which becomes unusable after 90-days.

Another way to activate Enterprise -- and the method used by copies downloaded from the MSDN and TechNet subscription services -- is with MAK (Multiple Activation Key), which connects with Microsoft's own activation servers.

In a blog post, Microsoft explore a few capabilities in Visual Studio 2012 that will make the testing of Windows 8 apps and verification easier.

Microsoft says, improvements and new functionalities in unit testing are now available in all Visual Studio 2012 SKUs, including Visual Studio 2012 Express for Windows 8.

Exploratory testing your Windows 8 apps: If you work on an app in an enterprise environment, and are used to a more structured development and testing process, Visual Studio 2012 provides a manual testing tool, Microsoft Test Manager, which in combination with Remote Tools for Visual Studio, allows you to conduct exploratory testing and structured manual testing of your app's functionality on all types of Windows 8 devices, Microsoft stated.

Microsoft Test Manager is part of the Visual Studio Premium and Ultimate SKU and the Test Professional SKU.

In addition to the seamless integration with TFS for easy bug filing and test case management, the manual testing tool in Visual Studio 2012 simplifies testing of your app on a remote device. During the testing process, the tool can capture screen shots, action logs and event logs from the remote device when you discover a bug in your app. It provides a two-way communication between your main workstation and the connected device that guides you through the steps of deployment of your app packages to the targeted testing device, acquisition of developer license on the device, and the execution of test steps, explains Microsoft.

With TFS integration, the manual testing tool enables a continuous workflow in a team environment between testing and development of your app.

For more info, see Visual Studio 11 Beta: Manual Testing of Windows Metro Style Apps. Manual Testing Of Windows 8 Metro Style Applications provides a detailed walkthrough.

For more details or to learn how to effectively unit test your Windows 8 app, see Creating and running unit tests on a Windows Metro style app and this unit testing talk from the //BUILD conference.

Also, available for download is the Windows Media Feature Pack for N and KN versions of Windows 8.

"The Media Feature Pack for N and KN versions of Windows 8 will install Media Player and related technologies on a computer running Windows 8 N or Windows 8 KN editions."

Download Windows Media Feature Pack for Windows 8 N and KN here.